What Is Low-Carb Chili?

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  • Written By: A.E. Freeman
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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Low-carb chili does not contain a lot of carbohydrates. Some chilies that are low-carb consist mostly of meat such as ground beef. Other recipes do call for beans, which have carbohydrates, but not enough to make the chili unsuitable for people following a low-carb diet. Many types of low-carb chili contain fewer than 4 grams of carbohydrates per serving. A cook can add ingredients such as sour cream or cheese to the chili without worrying about adding carbohydrates.

Meat is the primary ingredient in a low-carb chili. A cook may use any type of ground meat, such as beef, turkey, or chicken. Some people choose to use shredded chicken instead of ground meat, which changes the consistency of the chili. Leaner meats may be preferred by people who are also watching their fat intake, especially if they plan on topping the chili with cream or cheese.

Some cooks choose to add vegetables to low-carb chili, even though vegetables are typically high in carbohydrates. Onions are a common ingredient. Usually, one onion is used per recipe, so it doesn't add too many carbohydrates per serving. Tomatoes add a savory flavor to the chili, but they are also high in carbohydrates, so some cooks omit the tomatoes. Tomato paste can add intense flavor to the recipe without adding too many carbohydrates.


Ingredients such as garlic, cayenne or other chili pepper, and cumin add flavor to low-carb chili without adding to the carbohydrate count. Unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder is another ingredient that adds to the flavor of low-carb chili. Salt also boosts flavor without adding carbohydrates, but some people are salt sensitive and should limit the amount they add, especially if the chili contains broth or salt ingredients such as cheese.

While beans are generally not considered to be low in carbohydrates, some cooks do add them to low-carb chili. Black beans or red kidney beans are common. Although they do have carbohydrates, most of the carbohydrates are fiber or other complex carbohydrates and are fine for people in the later stages of a low-carb diet to eat. Beans are also a good source of protein.

Many chilies are finished off with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkling of grated cheese. As dairy products are low in carbohydrates, it's acceptable to add them to low-carb chilies, even though both are high in fat. To keep the meal low-carb, the serving of corn tortillas should be omitted.


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